April 29, 2006 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Managing my IRAs online?

I admit it - I'm a web junkie. I'm spoiled by being able to do everything from my home computer. At my workplace, I have a retirement plan, managed by Fidelity, where I can log on to my account, and then buy and sell all kinds of Fidelity's various fund products. If I don't trade more than once a month, they don't even charge me a fee.

I also have a number of IRAs kicking around in various places, mostly getting 2-4% fixed interest. I'd like to transfer them somewhere where I could up their risk and growth potential. (Mutual funds, bond funds, index funds are about my speed; I'm not a day trader nor an options trader.) Obviously Fidelity and a whole host of other places like E*trade will do that for me.

My question is: Where can I best manage them online - i.e., https - without punitive loads and fees, and without ever having to talk to someone on the phone, send in a bunch of forms, or receive a paper statement in the mail? Whose site has the clearest interface? (Can I do this with Fidelity? Their website's not very clear about it.)

This old question was useful, but it didn't answer my question.
posted by ikkyu2 to Work & Money (7 answers total)
I've had IRAs at Vanguard and Fidelity. The answer: you can do all of this at Fidelity. You will have to sign some paperwork to transfer your IRAs to Fidelity and to set up certain account features (these may also require notarization) but all that is a one time hassle.

Once you are set up at Fidelity they have an extensive website where you can do anything you would need. Vanguard has a site that is OK by comparison, but there are a few rough edges compared to Fidelity.
posted by dudeman at 7:47 PM on April 29, 2006

I use etrade only because it's where I happened to set it up several years ago. I get paper statements, but etrade would love for me not to; they'd get rid of the $25-a-year fee to do so. Other than that, everything I do is online. The interface is good.

(I suspect transferring will require paper everywhere, though.)
posted by raf at 8:21 PM on April 29, 2006

I transferred all of mine from Schwab to Fidelity a couple of years ago. There's paperwork involved in the transfer, of course, but after that, everything I've done has been online - except when I had questions, and then, I'm very glad Fidelity customer service was there (they have some GREAT customer service, btw - but you probably know that already).
posted by aberrant at 8:30 PM on April 29, 2006

I started out with fidelity, then hopped around over the years to various companies like schwab, e-trade etc. I wound up at ameritrade. I like ameritrade the best so far. Clean interface, they have everything fidelity had in terms of online convenience, much cheaper trading commissions, you can make all your statements electronic; you can consolidate all your accounts and see them (and manage them) on a single page. They have charts, news, all kinds of trading tools; they have ACH routing to your bank accounts, they have stop loss and trailing loss and other kinds of tickets. The website is fast, the interface is clean and simple. They also have some 8000 or so mutual funds, anything i've ever wanted, they had.

That said, why not stay at fidelity? They have everything too. Their customer service was great. I like ameritrade's interface better, but fidelity's wasnt bad. The only reason I left them was because I was shopping for cheaper commissions (fidelity does NOT have cheap commissions unless you're *already* a rich person, in which case they'll bend over backwards to keep you happy). But sounds like commissions isnt going to be a problem for you since you dont trade that often.
posted by jak68 at 12:51 AM on April 30, 2006

FYI. When transfering any retirement money be sure it is set up as an institutional transfer. (You never touch the money) otherwise you will have to pay taxes and penalties.-*-***

Also if your current employer uses Putnam, fidelity or the like you can do all of the management at their site.Usually without any fees.
posted by Gungho at 5:57 AM on April 30, 2006

The term Gungho is looking for is "Trustee to Trustee Transfer." If you cashed out your IRA (they make a check payable to you) and then you redeposit the funds with another qualified plan within 60 days, you are completing a rollover. You will get both a 1099-R and a 5498, from the withdrawing and receiving banks/institutions respectively. (No matter what you *think* you did, if you get a 1099-R from the bank, check into how the transaction was recorded on both sides.) Don't mix those terms -- therein lies an audit.

I think b/c of my husband's company's arrangement with their retirement provider, he gets some sort of break on fees and whatnot -- you may have a similar set up with your provider. It's worth checking into. Also TD Waterhouse was recently acquired/merged with Ameritrade, so they might have something nice going on - I remember seeing an ad about X-so-many commission-free trades.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:46 PM on April 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, for all your helpful answers.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:14 PM on July 12, 2006

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